Happy memories of inlet revived by boathouse story

The pointers and Southern Cross above Hoopers Inlet in May 2015. Photo: Ian Griffin
The pointers and Southern Cross above Hoopers Inlet in May 2015. Photo: Ian Griffin
Prizegiving of trophies and silver cups. ‘‘Commodore’’ Herb Lanham (left) stands  next to the...
Prizegiving of trophies and silver cups. ‘‘Commodore’’ Herb Lanham (left) stands next to the self-styled ‘‘Mayor of Hoopers Inlet’’, Jim Walquist, and unknown others.

Welcome back to another week.

A change from clouds today on the photographic front.

The black-and-white images we’re running today accompany an interesting piece about the Hoopers Inlet boatshed. I was tempted to call the boatshed "iconic", but managed at the last second to avoid that. It is such an overused word. But maybe it does meet the "iconic" threshold? What do you think?

Anyway, Jack Lanham of Alexandra, who is the son of the boatshed builder, has sent in his photos and his memories of those days of long ago, following the piece about the boatshed’s future by Chris Morris in the ODT on July 14.

"The reason for my interest stems from the fact that said edifice was in fact constructed by my father, Mr Herb Lanham, and friends during the 1920s and was used by our family up to the late 1950s.

"My father also built our crib on the slope overlooking the boatshed and many were the happy times we all spent there along with our friends and relatives.

"Being a tidal inlet, the depth of water was on average about two metres, making it fairly safe to have fun swimming, dinghy sailing, fishing and generally mucking about in boats. We engaged in flounder fishing, either netting or spearing in the deeper channels on the far side where the sea entered the bay, and they were the most delicious fish ever tasted!

The crowd at the regatta, with ‘‘The Commodore’’, Herb Lanham, who built the Hoopers Inlet...
The crowd at the regatta, with ‘‘The Commodore’’, Herb Lanham, who built the Hoopers Inlet boatshed, prominent in front next to the car. Photos: Supplied
"During the 1930s, the Hoopers Inlet Boating Club was formed by the owners of the various cribs nearby and some of the resident farmers in the vicinity. This proved to be a great success, with a regatta held every year during the Christmas holiday break.

"It was a picnic day as much as a regatta, with sailing and rowing races with hot water and milk provided. It is interesting to mention that there were three silver cups donated by various well-wishers as trophies for the winners of each sailing event.

"The boatshed was the headquarters for the boating events, accommodating the two judges, who carried out their important job from an office lined up on the finish line.

"Running races were held for all age groups attending, including egg-and-spoon races with cash prizes. A friendly spirit prevailed throughout the day and the function was always well attended, with the Peninsula Bus Service bringing a busload of people from Dunedin.

"In the evening following the regatta, a dance was held in the Hoopers Inlet School Hall to round out the day.

"The regatta continued on through the war years until the late 1950s. Worthy of note is the decision by the club to build a hall at Hoopers Inlet during the early 1950s in order to hold a Saturday night dance every so often through the course of the year as a fundraiser.

A Peninsula Bus Services bus loads  passengers at the end of the day’s festivities for the return...
A Peninsula Bus Services bus loads passengers at the end of the day’s festivities for the return trip to Dunedin.
"It was built by members of the club on a voluntary basis and fulfilled its purpose remarkably with patronage from far and wide. The hall is still standing today and has been used by residents from around the area.

"To have the boatshed described as photogenic and loved by photographers around the world, as per your article, would make my dear, long-departed, father’s heart swell with pride and our family is left with so many happy memories of the good times spent.

"It is pleasing to know that the present owner is intending to rebuild the boatshed to its previous specification."

Thanks for taking the time to write in with those recollections, Jack, and for letting us see your photos.

Sounds like it was a fun event — perhaps it is time to reintroduce the regatta?

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